Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Post - With friends like these...

Sometimes a character comes along that is fully real in your head. He's just there. And try as you might, you can't ignore him. Nicholas Rider in Bitter Harvest was one such character. It didn't help that he kept planting himself in my mind, chained to a metal ceiling and naked with a really interesting tattoo down his back. But then Rider is wicked like that.

He wouldn't leave me alone. And so I started to play with him, find out his world and who his love interest would be. That's when I struck my major problem. Rider was most definitely male. But the nebulous character who started to form as his love interest, the one who'd interrogate him--and be affected by him--was also a man. Try as I might, I couldn't make either of them women. I knew m/f. I wrote m/f. Time to panic.

I was nervous, I was out of my comfort zone. I was also in ... a place packed with enablers.

CM Torrens and Marguerite Labbe are eager to make everyone write man love. And they're good at it. Some might say...relentless. *grin* They encouraged me to write the story as it needed to be written. So, I took my first steps into writing m/m. 

I love to write sexual tension, and what surprised me with these two men was the ease with which it flowed between them. I didn't question it. Rider has no self restrictions and I was surprised to find a freedom in m/m that I'd never truly experienced in writing m/f. I don't believe it was solely his character. I've written a full ms and and another part of one and I found the same was true there too. (Yes, I am addicted to m/m now and I know who to blame. Please see previous paragraph ;-) ) 

Two male characters don't form with the same complications as a male/female pairing. The baggage isn't there. It's a simple thing, but I felt it as I wrote Bitter Harvest. I've also realised the weight, been aware of it, as I've written an m/f story this week. It's an observation that's thrown my new characters into a sharper relief for me. Which I love.

So I'd like to thank CM Torrens and Marguerite Labbe for letting me post on this blog and for (cracking the whip) helping me to write my very first m/m book. :)

Wonder if I can get them back with plot bunny or five... :D 


It's 2050, and humans are an endangered species. Lieutenant Robert Sutton has survived the collapse of civilization by luck, his wits, and a chance mutation that makes him immune to the nano-virus that has wiped out millions. Now, his compound of survivors is surrounded by the infected, who are driven by the need to spread the contagion through sex. It is only a matter of time before they attack. So when Sutton is assigned to interrogate a prisoner who claims to have overcome the infection, he immediately suspects a trap...
Nicholas Rider may have survived the virus, but he's a changed man, ruled by his desires. But his need for Sutton is different. Rider craves an end to his overwhelming needs, and Sutton could be the man to do it.
Secure in his belief that he's invulnerable, Sutton can't understand or resist his intense attraction to his prisoner. Will Rider be his downfall--or his savior?
Buy Links:
Carina Press: 
Amazon UK:
Amazon DE:
Kim Knox brews sex, magic, darkness and technology in a little corner of North  West England. She writes erotic science fiction and fantasy romance for  Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Cleis Press and others.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Local Legends II

One of the neat things about Southern Maryland is that there are a lot of back country, winding beautiful roads that have very little traffic.  It’s what makes them creepy too, especially when you breakdown after midnight and have to hike a mile down a wooded road to find help.  Thankfully, I had friends to keep me company, of course they brought up every horror movie we’d ever seen while we were walking and the house that we lived in at the time was old, creaky and built next to an abandoned plantation, so none of got sleep any when we made it home.

It was on one of these many back roads that a friend first told me of the Legend of the Goat Man who supposedly haunts P.G. County, no more than twenty minutes from me.  The Goat Man is an axe-wielding, half-man, half-beast who attacks cars as they go through his territory.  Some claim that he was once a scientist at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center who experimented on goats until it all went bad.  Others claim that the scientist, Dr. Stephen Fletcher, created the creature by mixing the DNA of a goat with his assistant, who then escaped.  Another version is more harmless, where the Goat Man is actually an old hermit who wanders the back roads and lives in a cave nearby and runs away when people approach.

 There are several different locations in the area where the Goat Man is supposed to pop up.  Fletchertown Road is one place, another is the roads behind the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.  (Lucky me, I went to college right next to there.)  Or near an old tuberculosis sanitarium near Governor’s Bridge which also has another legend connected to it, the Cry Baby Bridge.  Supposedly, if you stop there at night, you can hear the sound of a baby crying.  Apparently, the baby’s mother threw her child off the bridge when the baby’s father refused to acknowledge it and abandoned them.
As you can tell, I love ghost stories of all kinds.  I’ve recently submitted my own ghost story, Ghosts in the Wind, which has a few things in common with these local legends.  Like the Legend of the Blue Dog, my story involves the ghost of a murdered man and like the Legend of the Goat Man, my story has a hybrid creature.  There are Jackal Wraiths who feed off the spirits who linger in limbo and at one point, the murderer gets possessed by them.  There’s even the ghostly sounds of a crying baby.

Andrei Cuza and Dean Marshall just celebrated the ten year anniversary of their commitment ceremony only to have their happiness shattered. On his way home from closing a business deal, Dean stops on the side of the parkway to help a young mother with her flat tire when her ex catches up with her. Blake Olsen murders her and Dean and takes off with his two kids.

Andrei has been haunted by ghosts all of his life and bears the guilt for his younger sister Ileana being stuck in limbo. When Dean returns to him as a ghost the double-punch of losing him and now having to watch him founder if he doesn’t move on is almost more than Andrei can bear. Ghosts are stuck at the moment they died, unable to adapt to the changes in their living loved ones.

Dean has made a promise though, and until he helps Andrei track down the missing kids, he isn’t going anywhere. There are dangers in limbo that Andrei doesn’t know about, Jackal Wraiths that devour souls who succumb to their anger and they’re hunting Dean. And dangers to Andrei as well, who pays a price so he can have Dean’s touch one more time. Time is slowly running out as Dean and Andrei try to figure out how to say goodbye while they track down a killer who’d be more than happy to kill again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guest Post - What's So Gay About the Fae? by wtprater

The Politically Incorrect Dictionary defines a fairy as "homophobic. Replaced by petite airborne humanoid which possesses magical powers. The term fairy should be avoided when discussing these mythical beings, regardless of how gay they may appear." So, how gay are the Fae? Well, that depends. On where you look. 

I was first introduced to the Fae as creatures in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (AMND), presented in parts in the movie Dead Poet's Society (DPS). And when I saw Puck (Robert Sean Leonard), the lead fairy, I felt a little gay. Okay, a lot of gay. Years later, watching the movie version of AMND, starring Michelle Pfeifer as Titania, Rubert Everett as Oberon, and Stanley Tucci as Puck, I realized that there was a possibility that Fairies were gayer than unicorns farting out rainbows and sneezing skittles. But unlike my first experience, I also began to understand that being a Fairy (and gay) was not a fluffy experience to throw away or kill myself over (see DPS) nor was it an experience to run away from i.e. Peter Pan. It wasn't a cheesy magical puff of fairy dust, but rather a hard examination of the special and unique traits that blossom within and throughout me, helping me find my own magical touch.

So, when did the two words (Fairy and Homosexual) become synonymous with one another? Well, in 1895, the American Journal of Psychology reported the existence of a secret homosexual organization in New York called The Fairies. The group was regarded as "a peculiar society of introverts. Coffee-klatches, where the members dress themselves with aprons, etc. and knit, gossip, and crotchet; balls where men adopt the ladies' evening dress, are well known in Europe." As we all know, men had been dressing in drag for years to perform on stage, but this "new" element became men impersonating women in real life, not on stage. In The Female Impersonators by Earl Lind, "One of my earliest visits to Paresis hall [in New York City] - about January 1895 - I seated myself at one of the tables. I had only recently learned that it was the androgyne headquarters- or "Fairie" as it was called at the time." A 1921 source cites that Androgynes were known as "fairies, fags, or brownies". Brownies were the male version of fairies, and just as gay. 

There are more references between then and 1960, but it is my belief that the biggest resurgence of the commonality of these words was around 1954, with the play Peter Pan by J M Barrie in which a female (Mary Martin) plays the lead male character, Peter Pan, who is a type of Fairy. Tinkerbell, yet another Fairy, and nickname for gay men, is his sidekick. My question: What could be more "peculiar" than a grown woman playing a young boy who is trying to seduce a young girl? Now, that's just my interpretation, it is not a factual thing. 

We do know that a few years later in 1970, Harry Hay started a group named the Radical Faeries. Trying to describe the Fairies . . . "Faerie culture is indefinable as a group; however, it has similar characteristics to Marxism, feminism, paganism, Native American and New Age spirituality, anarchism, the mythopoeic men's movement, radical individualism, the therapeutic culture of self-fulfillment and self-actualization, earth-based movements in support of sustainable communities, spiritual solemnity coupled with a camp sensibility, gay liberation and drag." Those involved in this culture make create faerie names for themselves, practice magic (solitary or as a group), and study nature as source of strength and connectedness. 

So, whether it is flying high with bright colors, spreading glitter all over the place, creating havoc and anarchy, or dabbling in mischief, there are vast similarities (and differences) in both Fae and Homo history. And I for one will never be insulted when and if someone calls me a Fairy, because I know that I am magically delicious. Oh, wait, that's Leprechauns. . .Oh, well.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Seamus on you Shanahan

DISCLAIMER: When I signed up to do the St. Patrick’s Day post here I thought what fun. NJ and I have the most adorable little Leprechauns from our upcoming series that we just know would love to answer some questions for us. They love a good audience. Uh well let’s just say, we can’t be held responsible for what they come up with. We really should have known better.
Thoughtfully and apologetically yours,
Embry Carlysle
NJ Nielsen

Seamus on you Shanahan

Embry & I decided to hunt down the two little buggers that have caused so much trouble in our world – they are the princes of Mischief & Mayhem. Embry has poured enough coffee down their throats to make them sober up enough to answer some questions that I think we all want to find out the answers to.

First and foremost… Why the hell did you set this all in motion?

Shanahan: What ye be talking about? All we did was share some love with the pretty Fae and the human. Love makes the world go round. Do you not be thinking the Seamus?
Seamus:  Aye that I do Shanny, that I do. Wait, what did you ask me? **hiccup** (He blushes profusely, or is that the left over effects of the liquor? NJ is not amused)

Okay, what made you choose Roxy and Harlin?

Shanahan: (After picking himself up off the floor & his belly laughs turn to mere giggles.) I be thinking the human needed to pull the stick out of his ar… (Embry slaps her hand across his mouth to stop the swear words – having learnt previously – swear words send the Leprechauns into fits of giggling like school girls – so not pretty. Okay, so it may be worthy of You Tube.) (“Same question” NJ says to Seamus.)
Seamus: (He totally ignores Shanahan) Plus they’re the cutest, really cutest men on their planet and yours, ye know?

Tell us about Fate Raynes?
Shanahan: (Gasps Loudly) Don’t be saying the big man’s name around us (“Why?” NJ asks. Shan as he prefers to be called rolls his pretty green eyes.) If ye be saying his name too close to us he will be finding us and we will have to be running again.
Seamus: Aye I’m with Shan, we be very careful no to mention our man in da public, you see. Very bad indeed.
So if talking about Fa… the big man is out why don’t you tell us what is the best thing about living in The Shadow Realms?
Shanahan: How long do we be having… there are a many great things to be living where we do… Leprechaun Magics is being the best part, and pranking the uppity ups (Once again Giggles flow out of him like tinkling bells. Embry chuckles as NJ reaches across and slaps the giggling man up the side of his head.)
Seamus: Oh come now, we jest be having a wee laugh, no need to be so slap happy, unless of course ye like to be slapped.(He winks at the two ladies, then gets slapped himself by Shan)
What is the funniest prank you have ever pulled and on whom?

Shanahan: (Shanahan looks over at his partner in crime and smiles evilly.) That be the day the big man found out we be his mates. (What did you do? Embry and NJ lean forward eagerly.) I will be telling you it is the funniest thing and the reason we be in hiding today. (He glares at us both – if our mate be finding us we be knowing who is the snitch and you better be sleeping with one eye open – because we be playing our next prank on the two of you.)

Seamus: ‘Tis not as funny as ye be remeberin’ Shan, he was no happy to know we be it fer him, and ‘tis the only reason we be in hiding.

Shanahan: (Now Shan ignores Seamus, something they seem to be quite good at)  Don’t be forgetting the superglue? (Glue? Both Embry and NJ gasp.)

Seamus: Shh Shanny don’t ye be giving all our secrets away, are nay we suppose to be talkin about this silly human holiday St. Paddy’s day, anyway? Sometimes Seamus can ruin the moment by being the voice of reason, especially when he’s not as sober as he had Embry convinced he was.

Okay, I think next time we bring you a message from the guys we may have to have them be a little more sober than we have them today…or get stronger coffee.
Shanahan: Remember Karma is a bitch and we will be keeping an eye on the pair of you.
Seamus: No Shan… Karma be our brother in-law. (He cracks up laughing as Shanahan drags him out of the room.)

Like we said, we never know quite what to expect from the two little trouble makers. On behalf of NJ and myself, may you all have a wonderful St. Paddy’s day, even if you’re not Irish. May you know nothing but good luck today in everything you do, and may you always be on the lookout for Seamus and Shanahan…….

Irish Eyes are always watching……

Embry and NJ

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the Ides of March

CAESAR: The ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar; but not gone.

We all know the story. On March 15, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar went to meet the senators, and the rest became well told, oft-repeated history.

Legend has it, he was warned. “Beware the ides of March,” a seer told him. He dismissed the seer and ignored the warning. In hindsight, he should have paid more attention. But that’s why it’s hindsight. It’s the past. Over. It happened, and now all your failures can be evaluated to death.

But someone knew. Sure, the seer probably just caught wind of the conspiracy through careless whispers and information leaks. But what about those how just know? Those who can see future events? Do they exist? And can they give me some (winning) lottery numbers?

Fortune telling goes back as long as there have been people. Humans have been reading anything and everything as a means to get a little inside information on what the future holds. Stars, palms, runes. But if you don’t have a pot to piss in, you’ll have to pass on uromancy (reading bubbles made by urinating in a pot). Likewise if your llama is spotted, you’ll miss out on bronchiomancy (studying the lungs of sacrificed white llamas).

Can fortune tellers really see the future, or are they just paying better attention? Do they just read the signs better than the rest of us?

Omens and warnings are out there to help lead the way. But the future isn’t set. There is no map. Every event shapes us, changes us in some way. So even if there was a guidebook at some point, it was outdated before you could say "Microsoft Update." But there are patterns to history that can be used to extrapolate a pretty good idea of what the future holds. History repeats itself. The same mistakes are made again, over and over. If you followed Pattern A, then it is likely that Outcome B will follow. If you were paying attention, you saw it coming and prepared. Similarly, if you saw Pattern A deviate into Course C, you were ready for Outcome D.

Casting of lots, such as runes or tarot cards take the possibilities of the different combinations into consideration to predict a probable future. Ranking a set of possibilities and making a supposition of events to follow. Setting the odds in a manner of speaking. Think those theories went out when ‘civilization’ took over, or they only belong to the occult? Think again. Entire cities are formed by weighing the outcomes and stacking the odds in favor of the house. Every table game, slot machine, and sports book rating in Las Vegas or Atlantic City is a form of ranking the set of possibilities. And let’s not even think about the stock market or insurance industries. Their entire existence is weighing the options and betting against you.

Luck and science combine to provide a (hopefully) favorable outcome. But have you ever just known something? Read a headline, and just know how the events are going to play out in the future, look at someone and just know who they are? Call it instinct or intuition, I think most of us have some amount of spontaneous divination. Things you’re just sure of. You can’t explain why; it just is.

Now, given the fact that there’s a fair amount of science involved with divination, do I think someone can tell my future by reading my tea leaves or from a deck of cards? I don’t know, but I’m not about to tempt fate and find out.

I’m quite happy to remain clueless and just enjoy the ride.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Legends of the Deep - Merpeople through the Ages

The Ocean has long been a source of mystery and legend. In times past the farthest reaches of the Seas were marked only with “Here Be Dragons.” Their sheer magnitude and depth made these giant bodies of waters places no man could fully explore or fully understand. This left the Seas wide open for the influence of human imagination.

Black Dragonfish
Even today, the Oceans are some of the most difficult places to explore on the planet. There are deep sea crevaces where the pressure is great enough squash a person to jelly. Strange and exotic creatures exist in these only recently explored areas. But it is not just these far off, unexplored aspects of the sea that continually intrigue humanity.

Water is necessary for life. In many cultures it is a symbol for fertility. Water grows food, keeps people healthy and is even the root of many Fountain of Youth legends. However, water is also associated with death and battle and the unknown in many cultures. It is necessary to live but can also kill with the smallest effort. There are many creation myths in which water represents the great chaos. It is in the taming of this chaos through the defeating of the primordial sea monster that creation occurred.

Thus it makes sense that humanity would try to understand the life giving and life taking beings that inhabit the great vistas of the Oceans. One of the most popular creatures through the ages has been the Mermaid or Merman.

Artargatis, Syrian Goddess
The first Mermaid myths began as early as the eigth century BC. The earliest references to Mer-people see them as Gods and Goddesses of the Sea, or even the Moon. One of the earliest recorded “Mermaids” was a Semitic Moon-Goddess, worshipped by the Syrians and the Philistines, named Artargatis. It was in the form of a mermaid that she controlled the ebbing and flowing of the tides. Eventually, after giving birth to a fully human child, she became so ashamed she killed her lover and reverted to a wholly fishy state.

Many cultures in the ancient world contained legends of Merpeople including the Asparas of Indian culture; the Ningyo of Japanese culture; the Vatea of Polynesian culture; the Merrymaids of Cornish culture; the Muirruhgach of Irish culture; and many more. In these earlier manifestations of the legends Mer-people would take on a variety of roles: helper, seducer, enchanter, trickster, and many more.

Medieval Christian Mermaid
However, when Christianity began to spread, the legends began to shift. As much as it might surprise you, the medieval church supported the belief in Mer-people, particularly Mermaids. Whereas before, Mer-People took up any number of roles within mythology, during Christendom they came to serve as a moral emblem of sin, the femme fatale. They were typically portrayed with a mirror and a comb to symbolize their vanity and beauty. These represented the beauty which could lead men to their destruction. Thus it served the church’s purpose of subjugating women and teaching a strict sexual morality. This is also when earlier depictions of Mermaids with split tails (for all the easier sexin’) became less popular.  

Modern Mermaid
After the advent of the Enlightenment, the Mer-person began to represent a dichotomy between a person’s animalistic insticts and the human intellect. This is when stories of Mer-people wanting a human soul and lusting after human men became popular (Think Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid). This is also when positive images of beauty began to return to prominence in mermaid legends.

Even today, the Mermaid/Merman holds a special place in people’s hearts. They are found in movies as varied as The Little Mermaid, Splash, Harry Potter and Pirates of the Carribbean. People still report sightings and are die hard believers of this mythological phenomenon. Who knows what could exist in the unexplored deep dark places of the Earth? Whether you believe Mer-people actually exist or that they are symbols of something inherent to humanity, you have to admit, they are facinating creatures.


*Thanks to for some of the earlier mermaid legends.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Magic and Evolution

When I was a kid the whole world was magical. I remember sneaking into the kitchen trying to steal a cookie from the cookie jar, but my mom always caught me. I could have sworn my mother had magical powers, or at the very least, eyes in the back of her head. I just couldn’t figure how she knew what I was doing.

As time passed I had my own kids and my hearing sharpened to inhuman capabilities. The hushed whispers of plotting children and that distinct rattle of the cookie jar lid could be heard whether I was in the room or in the basement pantry. I became just as ‘magical’ as my own mother.

I miss that magic. It was a time in my life when anything and everything seemed possible. Back then, idea of finding a leprechaun at the end of the rainbow was a secret ambition of mine and the thought of becoming a butterfly when I grew up sounded fantastic. Then again, I was a strange child.

But what if there was magic out there? Real honest to goodness magic.

When you’re thinking really hard about someone and wondering how they are, is it coincidence when the phone rings and it’s the person you were thinking about? What about those CIA astral projectors that were paid to find enemy bases through out-of-body experiences and mental pictures? Is that what magic is? Is it even real, or just a hoax on the tax payers and government?

I like to think some things are real. That the mind is capable of things we all just don’t have access to yet, that maybe we just haven’t finished evolving into our true potential.

Maybe we’ll all have the ability to bend spoons, send empathic or telepathic messages, and project ourselves into other place while our bodies are safely tucked into bed. What magical powers would you like to evolve to have?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What about science?

I’m currently taking a refresher class in Quantum Mechanics at university. No, I’m not a sweet young thing anymore, things change and I’m more like an old fogey desperate to keep the brain cells active but that’s another story. So, last week we’re looking at temperature. Not as straight forward a concept as one might think but that’s not what I wanted to share. During the course of the class, the tutor was referring to the electromagnetic spectrum and specifically the part visible to the human eye. The 400 to around 650 nanometre wavelengths are the ones we see. 

But why? And this is what I found very interesting. 

Our sun’s rays that penetrate the atmosphere peak somewhere in the green spectrum for black body radiation and it’s known that the human eye finds green the easiest colour to see (don’t know how colour blindness fits into this equation by the way). One of the questions postulated was perhaps this is because the sun’s rays peak in this area – therefore, if humanity evolved in a solar system where the star’s (one or even a binary sun system) rays peaked… say… in the blue part of the spectrum would our eyes have evolved to see into the ultraviolet? If the star peaked in the red spectrum, would we see into the infrared? 

My daughter thought it was hilarious when I pointed out that perhaps this is why Superman has x-ray vision.

It lead on to a conversation about rods and cones in the eye and how and when they work. In low light or at night we tend to see things in shades of grey. This is because the cones don’t operate well in low light and we see with the rods. The rods don’t register colour hence we see in shades of grey. However, our peripheral vision and ability to detect motion is sharper at night because the rods are distributed throughout the retina but not in the macula or fovea centralis area that has the densest concentration of cones. 

It got me to thinking about how many people talk of spooky experiences. A flutter in the corner of your eye, a sudden movement in low light that can’t be explained, to full-on spectral activity. In a play of light and motion are we seeing those things that skirt the edges of the capacity of the human eye to detect? Things that are less obvious during good lighting conditions because the cones gives us a higher definition view of life and hold our attention letting the brain tune out the things at the periphery? 

I don’t know the answers, but I did find it interesting to look in more detail at how and what we see and maybe even why.
A long-standing tutor of mine always coined the phrase ‘call it a miracle, call it future science – the decision is yours’. Miracles, the paranormal, the supernatural. As science marches forward into the unknown, we may well end up with more than spaceships, time machines and photon torpedoes. We may end up with real-time measurements for ghosts and other spooky phenomenon that makes me think of one of my favourite series – PsyCops by JCP. 

What are your thoughts on things that go bump in the night and the likelihood of a defining science at some future time that will render some areas of the paranormal normal? Do you see any limits on our favourite subgenres and reality or are we a pre-emptive wave of enlightened souls like those hundreds of years ago who just knew the earth was round and we weren’t the centre of our galaxy?